Zimbabwe’s ruling African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has called the US ambassador to the country a “thug” and accused him of funding the opposition in the lead-up to this week’s planned anti-government protests.
Patrick Chinamasa, a spokesman for ZANU-PF, said Ambassador Brian Nichols was involved in subversive activities to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
“He [Nichols] continues to engage in acts of undermining this republic and if he does so – if he continues engaging in acts of mobilising and funding disturbances, co-ordinating violence and training fighters – our leadership will not hesitate to give him marching orders,” Chinamasa said, without providing evidence.
“Diplomats should not behave like thugs, and Brian Nichols is a thug,” he said.
Mnangagwa’s time in office has not been a smooth run so far, with anti-government protests planned for this week.
The Zimbabwean government believes Western countries are sponsoring the opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume and the journalist Hopewell Chin’ono to make the government unpopular.
Tensions amid corruption protests
The country’s dwindling economic fortunes have led to plans by activists for a huge demonstration on 31 July.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in more than a decade, with allegations of corruption against the government also gaining roots.
Chin’ono, a prominent journalist known for exposing alleged government corruption, and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume have since been arrested over the planned protests.
Despite organisers’ insistence that the protests will be peaceful, the government is concerned that the exercise could turn violent, should it be allowed to happen.
Zimbabwe is on a collision course with the West, with President Mnangagwa’s human rights record under scrutiny.